Protesters demonstrate once again their commitment to national unity and nonviolent tactics, and the Assads demonstrate once again their commitment to violence and brutality.
Though the Assads failed to use much violence in their crackdown on protesters this Friday, they will more likely compensate for that in the coming days.
The Assads have always mixed their tactics: at times decreasing and at others increasing the levels of violence depending on their own assessment of the situation on the ground and on the message they want to send to the international community. Considering the increasing tensions with the U.S. and France, the Assads might be trying to cool things down a bit by way of avoiding a complete break in diplomatic relations. Furthermore, in this particular instance, the growing restlessness within the Alawite community and its mounting internal anger against the rising levels of violence and increasing attempts by Assad officials using state-run media to stoke sectarian fires, especially in Homs, seems to be giving the Assads reasons to pause. Alawite support for the Assads has never been as solid as people thought, and, after four months of protests, many Alawites can now see through the lies told in official media, and are gradually beginning to realize that, while there are some fanatics among the Sunnis, they remain pretty much at the margins of things. Indeed, many Alawites seem willing to accept now that this is not a Sunni or an Anti-Alawite revolution, as the Assads and their propagandists keep telling them, but a national protest movement focusing squarely on the corruption of the Assads and their henchmen known to come from different communal backgrounds.